Scruggs Update: Government responds with emotion to evidence request

By Patsy R. Brumfield/Daily Journal

OXFORD – The U.S. Attorney’s Office denies it held secret negotiations for Booneville attorney Joey Langston’s cooperation in its judicial bribery case against Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and others in 2007.

“Let us be clear,” said the brief written by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Norman. “There was no month-long secret negotiations preceding Joey Langston’s plea.”

And Norman denies any ethical conflict occurred between Ashland attorney Tony Farese and his clients, Dickie Scruggs’ son Zach of Oxford and then Langston.

The remarks come in the government response, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, to Zach Scruggs’ request filed Wednesday for the court to reconsider its denial of his Feb. 14 motion to seek additional evidence for an April 25 hearing.

Senior Judge Neal Biggers Jr. set the hearing after Zach Scruggs asked the court to throw out his 2008 conviction and prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to knowing a colleague had an illegal conversation with Judge Henry Lackey, presiding over a lawsuit against his father and others.

Norman’s motion seems tinged with sarcasm at Scruggs’ desire to get government answers to “steamline” the upcoming hearing.

“The government is appreciative of any efforts to streamline the proceedings,” Norman continues. “But shrill and sophomoric allegations do nothing to streamline the proceedings.”

The younger Scruggs insists he is innocent of any charges and can prove it.

He and his attorney, Edward Robertson, did not immediately respond to the government’s new motion.

Norman, though, repeatedly calls him a “convicted felon” and says Scruggs must “show the court that he did not know money was changing hands … to corruptly influence Judge Lackey.”

The Scruggses and three others were indicted in November 2007, accused of conspiring to improperly influence Lackey, who by then was working undercover for the FBI.

Langston pleaded guilty Jan. 7, 2008, to his part in a scheme to influence another circuit judge, Bobby DeLaughter in Hinds County. Langston was Dickie Scruggs’ attorney before his plea.

Norman is one of the last assistant U.S. attorneys left in the office prosecuting this case after the departure of U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee.

Zach Scruggs accuses the prosecutors of lying to the court that Langston would testify that Zach knew about the DeLaughter scheme. Later, Langston and others, under oath, denied Zach knew anything about DeLaughter.

Last year, Zach Scruggs filed a complaint with the Mississippi Bar against Farese, saying he played both sides of the street as his and Langston’s attorney without adequately informing Zach that he was working for Langston.

Farese denies the allegations.

• Read more in Friday’s Daily Journal or on NEMS360.com.